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Tension in Abuja

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…illegal motor parks take over capital city
…Blame FCTA
…They are not collaborating with area councils over transport issues
There is environmental confusion/tension in Abuja, the nation’s capital, as illegal motor parks
have taken over the city, resulting in traffic concerns writes Nigerian Pilot Weekend City
Correspondent, Friday Obande
Critical view of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, paints a picture that contradicts its status as a city
of dreams. To an extent, the hub of Nigeria’s power is gradually deteriorating into a rowdy
spectacle, giving it the look of a busy Shanghai, Lagos or Ibadan rush-hour scenes with the
emerging trend of illegal gridlock of motor parks around the nooks and crannies of the city
center.
Driving into the heart of Abuja, one begins to notice unnecessary congestion of vehicles parked
on the express road, as well as pedestrian lanes, causing human and vehicular jam all over the
place, with a mixed blend of humid atmosphere made tense by the stench of carbon monoxide
from the commercial vehicles, littered debris, ranging from pure water sachets to urinary and
sewer stench exhuming from the friction of horrid stampede of motions caused by the
emergence of commercial motorist activities of creating perennial motor parks. These
automobiles, range in varieties from the long omnibuses, popularly known as ‘El-Rufai, to the
painted and non-painted taxis and tricycles competing for space on busy roads in the Capital
City of Nigeria.
On arrival to Abuja, the Nyanya flyover is the first of its kind that ushers commuters to the
heart of the city, when plying through the Keffi-Abuja route. There are about three competing
parks around that axis aside the usual rude intersection of vehicles by motorcyclists and tricycle
riders meandering endlessly through the rowdy blend of humans and vehicles. This trend
continues well into the centers of the capital Abuja. One of the resurgence of this shabby
scenario that immediately captures the onlooker’s view after the Nyanya spectacle is the AYA
junction which, like other major junctions in the FCT, happens to be one of the melting points
for the convergence of fleet of vehicles and human as from every part of the capital city. The
spectacle at that point is one of rowdy clatter emanating from a mixture of human voices,
vehicular horns, screeches by some commercial and private commuters as well as the emission
of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, ruining a supposed urban area to the nearness of a
local market community. The trend also extends to other strategic parts of the FCT city centers.
One of the such cases again resurface as soon as one approaches the central area axis, beside
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the new Federal Secretariat and behind Eagle Square, where
buses, green painted taxis and other vehicles, private and commercial scramble for passengers
moving towards Wuse and other areas around the city centers.
Also related to the eyesore of the mentioned areas above is the beehive Wuse Market-Berger-
Jabi axis which toll from the Wuse ultra-modern market to Berger overhead bridge, from where
one is confronted with contrasts of what the area was made to be. Amidst the decent
urbanised arrangement of buildings and offices, like corporate organisations, government

establishments, banks and other entities, the market-like status of that arena creates an ugly
picture of the number one city of Nigeria as the fusion of traffics from vehicular and humans
equally creates a difficulty to differentiate between the expressways and the multiple jam of
traffic, which sometimes stretches wildly till you cross the the Berger area, halting swift
movements from those areas to others. From Berger Junction to Utako, which is also part of
Abuja’s city centre, the scourge of these emergency motor parks toes from Utako market to the
areas around ABC Transport and beyond. Other very catchy parts of the city centre with the
same spectacles are the surroundings of Area 3 Junction, the overhead bridges at Area 1 and
the uncompleted Apo Bridge, which also displays a collage of green and non-painted vehicles in
random procession through Apo bridge and the busy terminus at Gudu Market where the
tripartite motions of humans, vehicles and tricycles are on constant rampage, giving the FCT the
looks of an organised but remote environment.
Concerning the emergence of these illegal terminuses springing up in the city, some commercial
vehicle drivers blamed the unfortunate situation on the government, explaining that the
absence of motor parks and congestion of the roads were caused by negligence of government
towards executing projects onthe FCT transport industry. They were of the view that despite
commercial drivers’ constant appeal for decent parks and authorised terminuses where
vehicles can queue for proper commercial activities as well as avoid embarrassment from tax
forces, the FCTA authority and Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, had done little or nothing
to see to the welfare of the transporters and road users. They also berated the extortion of
drivers by various agencies or companies that play middlemen between the government and
commercial drivers. Notably, some of them were of the view that the government’s negligence
towards building organised motor parks or bus stops could be a deliberate attempt to both
sustain the extortions it enjoys through its multiple tax systems or frustrate some of the
commercial motorists out of business to pave way for some greedy officials to establish
personal intra-city transport companies. They described the tax system of authorities like the
National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, AMAC, Painted Taxis Company Limited,
PATS and Self Employed Drivers Association, SECDA, as being partially outrageous, mostly for
the painted and non-painted taxi owners. But more of their dismay was directed towards the
activities of the ‘tax forces’ which the drivers accused of being extremely exploitative,
describing them as cut-throats, mostly when you violate directives, either by parking wrongly
on the road or dropping off a passenger at a spot which they consider improper.
A painted taxi driver, James Audu, who commutes between Gwarimpa and Wuse/Berger route,
complained bitterly on various difficulties that are faced by commercial taxi drivers in the city
centres.
“You first have to register with one of the transport authorities, maybe NURTW or SECDA or
PATS for N8, 000, so you can get licence to start driving and after that one, you will begin dey
pay daily tax, like AMAC is N200 everyday, NURTW own is N100.
“The most painful one na the tax force that we don’t even understand their relevance, because
they just jump into your car like thieves for wrong parking or dropping of passengers and only
arrest all the time, and once they arrest you, you must pay between 10,000 for painted taxis
while unpainted vehicles pay as much as 15,000 or there about. Some of the offences are
wrong parking, dropping of passengers for wrong places or if you don’t get some of your
complete registration details,” Audu said.

Commercial vehicle drivers around the overhead bridge leading to Wuse market from Garki
seems to be a bit relief with business and location of their make-shift motor park situated on a
slope beside the bridge, from where they run through Areas 1-10, and others who are
chattered drivers or ‘drops.’ Though they equally shared the bitter experience of other drivers,
they however noted through one Victor (aka Baba Ayo) that “we are here to stay and if
government say we should go, let them build a park for us, period!”
These drivers also explained that the said N8,000 paid as registration fee only covers the AMAC,
narrating how some of them had been waylaid en-route some of the sub-urban towns in Abuja,
where they are charged exorbitantly up to the sum of N20,000, sometimes under worst case
scenario. They however concluded that the standard toll that covers all the unions and towns in
Abuja amount to about N14, 000.
Speaking to the group managing director, Private Taxi Nigerian Limited/ Discovery Car Hire,
PAT, Prince Epunah, he blamed the government for the emergency motor parks springing up all
over the FCT for its failure to utilise the revenues generated from the various licenced agencies,
adding that PAT, for instance, remits part of its generated tax from tolls to the FCTA treasury
while the rest go into maintenance of the vehicles under the company logistics.
He also frowned at the exploitation by the task force on Abuja transportation system, as he
cited an example of a commercial vehicle under PAT that was hauled off from the junction
before the bridge around Wuse Market by tax force officers, which the company would bear
the cost of bail as part of its services to the commercial drivers registered with his company. He
also said that his organisation charges the least toll of just N8, 000 on commercial motorists in
the whole of the city centre as the company’s registration is sometimes done for free, with just
N1, 200 paid as monthly levy to PAT. Mr. Epunah then affirmed that PAT remains the only
digital maintenance company with an accurate database of all its client and activities submitted
to the government authorities, with its inter-switch data services which he claimed was very
expensive to operate.
Nigerian Pilot weekend also spoke to the chairman, Task Force Committee on Motor Parks and
Transport of AMAC, Hon. Chinedu Joshua Obike, who noted that transporters were expected to
follow new guidelines to be issued to them, adding that most of the emergency motor parks
littering the FCT city centres were illegal, as they were not part of the road map for the council’s
transport plans. He said that he had initially authorised the evacuation of some vehicles without
permits, all illegal operators at Jabi Motor Park, and that other government owned parks which
fail to obtain permits risk a shut-down and impoundment of the vehicles by the task force.
Obike added that AMAC’s policy on building new and comfortable motor parks within the
council had been a long term project, since the previous administration of the PDP and that the
current government was taking necessary steps towards the completion of those projects.
Notably, he mentioned Nyanya, Karu and Area 1 as areas where the construction of new motor
parks by AMAC are in progress. The secretary, however, decried the lack of cooperation
between the FCTA and AMAC, noting that as a mother authority to all the area councils in
Abuja, the FCTA had not been collaborating with AMAC over issues of transport in the FCT.
He explaining that there were spots around the area council called terminus, created by FCTA,
which were supposed to be under the control of the council but monopolised by the federal
authority, even when AMAC has constitutional rights to legislate over such spots. He again
accused the FCT of leasing supposed government parks to private individuals like the one

directly under the Nyanya Bridge. Obike further said that the operations of painted taxi
drivers around commercial plazas, estates, shops and other organised areas for business would
not be condoned by the area council.
“If anyone wants to operate a private motor park, it is better he gets an empty land or building
designated for commercial purpose and rent; put all the necessary conditions and we will issue
the operational permit. And all interstate motor parks are also not left out, as they must obtain
the operational permits before they will operate within the jurisdiction of the council,” he said.
Whatever the case, the FCT has a master plan which amongst others includes earmarked areas
conducive for situating motor parks for the ease and free flow of traffic and pedestrians. Abuja
is Nigeria’s city of dream which has undergone series of developmental phases since its
inception as the seat of Nigeria’s federal government. Therefore, it is pertinent for the
government to foster the growth of the country’s centre through ensuring that all supposed
projects, mostly those in the city centres, are well executed within the right frame of time in
order to avoid the deterioration to which the city is current reclining to.

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